Saturday, October 02, 2010

The American Home Front 1941-1942 by Alistair Cooke

For anyone interested in WWII era history, this remarkable book documents the observations of the many ways Americans at home contributed to, and were affected by, the war effort. Author Alistair Cooke was a well-known British-born, American correspondent and also the television host of BBC America and Masterpiece Theatre.
What makes this book particularly interesting is that after he returned from his lengthy travels across the length and breadth of the country, Cooke’s publisher decided not to publish the manuscript as it was finished just as the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The pages lay at the bottom of his New York apartment closet for 60 years until, shortly before his death in 2004, they were discovered. Fortunately, someone recognized their worth as historical documents and set about getting this book published in 2006 by Atlantic Monthly Press. The book includes a map outlining Cooke’s route and a generous index for anyone who wishes to zone in on a particular region, event, person, etc.
Cooke was a gifted writer who includes descriptions of landscapes, living and working conditions, and people of all types. His love for his adopted homeland (he became a U.S. citizen in 1941) is apparent.
As my mother is in her 90’s her memories are fading. As I read parts of this book I was able to find information that could help me stimulate her memory through guided questions. It has been rewarding for both of us!
Consider reading this book for a fascinating tour of that time period in history. Before long, our chances to talk with those who lived it will be gone forever.

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